Have families name their fort and draw for a winner at the end of the night.
Play music from your collection or nighttime sounds in the background to set the mood.
Make dreams come true and play hide and seek like our friend Amy, The Show Me Librarian, did at her Family Forts After Hours program. To do this she gave each family a glow bracelet, had the person wearing the bracelet hide, and instructed the rest of the family to find their person.
Depending on space and the age of your fort builders you could also play flashlight tag where the child who’s it can only tag other players by casting the beam of their flashlight over them
Is your library doing advisory or programming around apps or digital media? Do you want to start? Research from Common Sense Media in 2013 cites that 75% of households own digital media in some format, with 40% of families with children under age 8 owning at least one device. Here are our Top 10 resources for learning about the research on using digital media with children and for learning about ways public libraries are embracing our role as media mentors.
In 2012, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College released this paper giving their recommendation that “when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development.” They also state that we must pay special attention to media use with infants and toddlers, avoiding passive play in favour of shared technology time with an adult caregiver.
Though widely cited for their 2011 recommendation of no screen time for children under the age of two, the AAP recently came out with updated suggestions that make a distinction between passive and active media. They now recommend that parents engage in digital media with their children, model media behaviours, and investigate the quality of media aimed at children. A more formal policy statement to follow their 2016 national conference.
This 2015 paper published by the Association for Library Service to Children summarizes the current research on the topic of using digital media with children and makes four core recommendations for all youth services staff. They recommend that every library have staff who act as media mentors, that media mentors support families in their decisions, that library schools provide training to future youth services professionals, and that current staff receive the professional development they need to take on this role. Their website includes many helpful links, including free webinars on this topic to their members.
4. Zero to Three: Screen Sense Zero to Three is one of the leading organizations advocating for early childhood education. In 2014 they came out with their “Research-Based Guidelines for Screen Use for Children Under 3 Years Old.” In these guidelines they advise that caregivers must participate in screen time for young children and that screen time should be interactive. They also highlight the importance of extending learning beyond the screen.
5. Joan Ganz Cooney Centre: Joint Media Engagement The Cooney Center is an independent research organization that specializes in advancing children’s learning through digital media. They came out in 2011 with a publication that advocates for joint media engagement – using digital media alongside children – which leads to more positive learning outcomes. They were one of the first groups to emphasize the positive effects of caregivers participating in screen time.
While no longer being updated Little eLit remains a vital source of information when it comes to digital media. Browse through the archived blog posts, scroll through apps which have been reviewed on Little eLit and locate lists and other trusted review sites. Finally, their home page links to some of the reports mentioned above and other important publications.
If you’re just getting started or curious how to incorporate digital elements into your storytime we love Anne’s no-nonsense eStorytime outlines. She includes descriptions of the apps she uses and lots of images. Her introductory blurb on iPad Apps and Storytime would be great to adapt and share with caregivers as well.
Featuring app reviews for young children, teens and kids in between this is one tumblr you’ll definitely want to follow. Each review is written by a member of the West Vancouver Memorial Library Youth Department and includes helpful tags for searching by operating system, age, price and type.
Do you have a favourite resource for using digital technology with children that we missed? We’d love to hear about it, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re all about honouring the season AND our community here at Jbrary and so this week we bring you a wonderfully winter storytime! For the full run down of all of our winter songs and rhymes be sure to check out our Winter Storytime playlist and our Winter Storytime board on Pinterest for books, felts and craft ideas. Now, let’s get started before your hot chocolate cools!
Songs and Rhymes
This is a perfect storytime song because it work beautifully for babies (have parents bounce them gently on their knees) or big kids (tell them to put their legs out in front of them and hang on) or both! To extend the song ask for ideas of what else could happen on their little blue sled.
Often underrated, the Calm Down song is a crucial tool in your storytime toolkit and why not have one that fits your theme? This version of Twinkle, Twinkle could be done with scarves or just voices but is guaranteed to tame the wildest crew.
We love this version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas because it allows you to ask your storytimers what they are celebrating and sing about just that. Feel free to spread winter, presents and rainbow kitten cheer!
I may have shared this in every post since we recorded it but I simply cannot get enough of this song. Use scarves or just your hands as the sun, rain, leaves and *fingers crossed* snow!
This week our Canadian Libraries Spotlight series turns fifteen! We’re celebrating with a post from a fellow YouTube creator: the Belleville Public Library in Ontario. Suzanne Humphreys who is their Coordinator of Children’s, Youth and Readers’ Services shares the how’s and why’s of a public library YouTube channel and we’ve even included one of their fan-tab-ulous videos down below!
We at the Belleville Public Library are adding another string to our social media bow with a YouTube channel. As with most libraries a frequently discussed issue is that of the schedule of a program being an obstacle for some families. As much as we make our customer needs a priority we are still bound by the confines of staff and space. We have very well attended story time programs but got to thinking about children who were not able to attend and came up with the idea of Storytime Anytime as a way for kids to have at least some of the storytime experience at home on their own schedule.
We are lucky enough to have an iPad in our department so the filming of the video clips was relatively easy and we figured that we could edit in iMovie and upload to YouTube in one swoop. However, it turned out to be the case that there were compatibility issues and using YouTube editor was the better option.
Our storytime programs are always introduced by our puppet Blossom the Bookworm who sings our welcome song and the kids just love her. We could not have Storytime Anytime without Blossom! We filmed a clip of Blossom introducing the Storytime and added this to the beginning of our videos. We also used her image on the button at the kid’s page of our website to link to our YouTube channel.
We recorded a handful of videos ready to upload. It is funny how intimidating that camera can be even when you are usually quite happy to be singing and bouncing and making a complete fool of yourself in the name of a fun filled storytime. And yes it is still painful to watch yourself on video but just fine watching your colleagues!
Once we had uploaded our first handful of videos we realized that the image quality was good but the sound was not great. It also varied from one computer to another and certainly from one reader to another. This (plus the onslaught of our Summer Reading Club!) slowed down the rate of adding more content. However, we were lucky enough to have the support of management to go ahead and purchase a camera and tripod that will certainly improve the quality of our videos and our still photography too. We are now filming new videos and using Movie Maker on our laptop to edit and upload. At the moment it is only videos from Children’s Services on our YouTube Channel but that is about to change as staff from throughout the library add patron testimonials, tutorials and book talks and create playlists for each. The possibilities are very exciting!
I have found that as with any new initiative and particularly when it involves technology there have been hiccups along the way but the very thought of one of our young story time patrons watching us at home when sick on the couch or while getting fussy in the car makes it so very worthwhile. Engaging new and existing customers through social media is an essential part of promoting the services and collections of the library and we hope that with this YouTube channel we can reach out to another segment of our public.
Babies are both natural musicians and dancers which as far as we’re concerned means they were made for scarves and egg shakers! We absolutely love busting out these props in baby storytime and hope by the end of this post you will too. In case you’re interested we have written about using scarves and shakers for the general storytime crowd too. And of course don’t forget to check out the other posts in our Baby Storytime series:
So first up the nuts and bolts: why are scarves and shakers so great for babies? Play is one of the five early literacy skills AND also one of the most overlooked. Tell parents baby storytime is not only a chance for them to learn new songs and rhymes but also learn ways to play with their infant. Scarves and shakers lend themselves to peek-a-boo’ing, hide and seeking and best of all: tickling! Babies learn about conversations when they play back and forth games with adults and scarves and shakers can make this fun and help elicit a response from even the quietest infant. If parents are not convinced that early literacy can be this fun let them know when babies hold, scrunch, drop, and wave scarves and shakers these movements develop their fine and gross motor skills which will make writing and typing easier down the road. Or tell them that when you gently touch baby’s body parts with a scarf or shaker while naming them it will help baby remember the vocabulary better. And if they’re still listening maybe mention that shakers (and also scarves to some extent) help break words into smaller sounds, all the better for baby to process them!
A couple other notes on shakers and scarves: moreso than with any other storytime crowd, when they’re out they’re out. To try and get shakers and scarves back before the little ones have really had a chance to play with them would just be cruel. I tend to hand them out halfway through the program, after we’ve done a couple stand-up-and-move songs to capture the babies’ attention again and I collect them when the program is over and they’re getting ready to leave. If the group is new to you handing them out is a perfect chance to practice names and collecting them is a perfect chance to chat with parents. Sneaky, oh so sneaky! A final note, expect anything you hand to a baby to be chewed and drooled on. A lot.
Ok, let’s finally get into some songs and rhymes. Here is a list of our favourites to use with scarves and shakers. Feel free to use them interchangeably and make up your own versions. But only if you promise to share below 🙂
Peek a Boo
A baby storytime must. Have parents peek out from behind the scarf or for older babies place the scarf on their head and take turns pulling it off for the peek-a-boo.
Rain on the Grass
Another absolute gem which you can repeat several times and change the weather each time. Make sure to tell parents to drop the scarf on baby when they sing “not on me!”
Rain is Falling Down
When you live in Raincouver you’ve got to have several different rain songs and this one is soothing and calm. Encourage parents to have the scarves fall like rain on baby and gently drag them across baby’s chest when they sing splash and pitter, patter, pitter, patter rain is falling down.
All the Little Babies
Consider this our challenge to engage caregivers and have some fun. Parents will get a laugh out of this one which in turn equals happy babies!
We Wiggle and Wiggle and Stop
Similar to Everyone Can Shake, Shake, Shake this song is a fun way to introduce babies to the concept of stop before it’s an emergency. Encourage parents to try out new vocabulary like shiver, shake or tap when they’re singing at home.
Ride Baby Ride
This is another new song that I cannot get enough of. Parents can let baby hold the shaker while bouncing them on their lap or draw attention to the ch, ch, ch sound by shaking louder during those lines.
Head and Shoulders Baby
I like to tell parents this is a special version of head and shoulders just for baby- and it’s even more special when you sing it with shakers. Have parents gently tap on the body part they’re singing about and then shake out the 1, 2, 3.
Ending with yet another favourite. Have caregivers rock baby or just the shaker back and forth to the rhythm and then shake it up high for the cuckoo!
That about does it for using scarves and shakers in Baby Storytime. This is your friendly reminder that we’ve got a Scarf Songs and Rhymes Playlist as well as one for Egg Shaker Songs if you want more ideas and if you’ve got ideas to share please leave them below!
We can’t believe that we’re well into double digits in our Canadian Libraries Spotlight series, which aims to highlight the outstanding work being done in Canada to serve children and families. This week is particularly exciting as we welcome out first guest blogger from Quebec! Read on as Valerie Medzalabanleth from the Côte Saint-Luc Public Library talks about how her library has gone above and beyond to make the library an exciting place for families to be.
The Côte Saint-Luc Library is located on the Island of Montreal, but is independent, and not part of the larger Montreal system. We serve a bilingual community, but it is predominantly Anglophone. I started working at the Côte Saint-Luc Library about four years ago, and I noticed almost immediately that it was a vibrant and well-loved library with loyal users and a fantastic staff. When I arrived, our population of children and families was steadily increasing, and has continued to do so since then. At the time, we were also seeing more and more newcomers, often from other countries; understandably, not all of them came running immediately to the library. One of the things I envisioned was including these new families and helping them find a community here at the library.
Before I began working here, the CSL Children’s Department was known for its great baby programs, and it also had very fun special events. Over the past years, my goal has been to maintain that level of service, loyalty and satisfaction, while expanding the age demographic. I envisioned the department as a place where creative and fun things happened at any time, a place where families, kids, tweens and teens would find something engaging to do whenever they happened to be here. Accomplishing that, in my eyes, meant offering an array of fun programs, but also making sure that there is enough to do when simply visiting the space. If a children’s department is all about families, then we should embrace their presence, allow for the noise that comes with them, and do our best to keep them interested and entertained for as long as we can.
With creating a true community and family space in mind, I’ve been actively working to create and grow the range of opportunities for exploration and collaboration, and there have been quite a few successes. This past summer, we invited the community to complete a puzzle challenge. We left a puzzle out at all times and whenever it was completed, we took a picture of the team or individual who had done it and put it on our “Summer Puzzlers” display wall. To put it simply: this was a big hit. Even those who might not have looked twice at a puzzle before desperately wanted to be on that wall. After their puzzle was completed and their pictures were taken, kids, parents, and grandparents would often return to the library the next day to eagerly search for their picture. We even had a few “too cool for school” teens participating, and more than a few kids who usually came in just to use the computers were asking when we’d change out the puzzle so they could complete it again.
One of the goals of our Summer Reading Club was to have kids want to visit the library on their own time and on a weekly basis. If they were visiting regularly, we hoped that they would also be tempted to read more regularly. To encourage this, we had a weekly treasure hunt, of sorts, which had kids scrambling through the department (safely, of course!) to find a letter X hidden in various spots. This simple game encouraged kids to discover parts of the department that they had perhaps never seen. It was also just plain fun. We never tried to trick the children; we wanted them to enjoy the process of searching for–and hopefully finding–the hidden X. We gave out prizes, but kids seemed to find even more satisfaction in completing the challenge as their parents looked on amused, trying not to give too many hints.
Those passive programs are just two examples of how we worked to get families excited about their library visits. While they were here, I also hoped to tantalize them to return for fun “active” programs. This fall, we had a sock-puppet workshop aimed at 5-to-9 year olds. The program was full; we even opened up extra spaces so more people could participate, reaching our max attendance for a children’s activity. One of the most exciting thing about the workshop was that whole families came. We saw sets of siblings, accompanied by parents and sometimes grandparents, working together and with other families, sharing the resources (glue sticks, fabric markers, etc.) and ideas. It’s incredibly rewarding to organize and lead a program that helps children unleash their vivid imaginations. We gave them the loosest of directions (let’s read this silly story together, then you can sketch out your plans, and make use of whatever material you want to make your sock puppets) and they created superheroes, dragons, princesses and a few entirely original beasties. One nice surprise: a few families posted pictures of the event on Facebook, which raised the profile of the department and our activities even higher.
Riding high on our puppet-makers’ desire to create, I began talking with some of our participants about an upcoming program that I have been really excited about: a parent/child knitting class/group. I have been an avid knitter for about seven years, coming to it as an adult after trying to get the hang of it a few times as a kid. There’s something really rewarding about creating something, and the sense of community that arises when you have a group of similarly creative people around you is like no other. Lots of libraries, including our own, have knitting groups for adults, and some have knitting lessons for children, but I wanted to focus on a cross-generational group. I had previously put out a call to find out if anyone in the community was interested, and almost everyone said the same thing: “My child and I really want to do this, but we don’t know how to knit yet.” This fall, we have started to solve the problem. We are leading two groups into a basic three-session intro to knitting. Afterward, all the participants will be invited to switch over to a monthly meeting. This community-building activity now has a healthy registration; based on early feedback, I’m optimistic that the class will definitely develop into a regular group, and from there, it can only grow!
Writing this post has been a lot of fun because it has made me focus on the various ways we have tried to keep our public engaged and invested in their public library. I like to think that our active programs help feed into the passive games and toys we have in the library, and vice versa. Just this past Sunday, our weekly storytime took an exciting an unexpected turn right when we were wrapping up, as a group of kids began using our giant tinker toys. It was great to see kids who would never have spoken to each other (despite just having finished a program that they were in together) turn into a team with an ambitious goal: build the tallest tower they possibly could. Looking on, I couldn’t help but think they were demonstrating what it means to be an engaged community by building a tower, and by offering that blend of programs, the public library was helping them get there.
One of our favourite parts of the fall season is learning about all the new books that are soon to hit the shelves. If you’re like us and work in a large system with centralized purchasing, you have to make a concerted effort to stay on top of new releases. Have no fear! In this issue we’re sharing ten of our favourite websites to keep up-to-date on children’s and young adult books, apps, and audio visual materials.
Step Up Readers: The fabulous Storytime Katie has started a second blog and it’s all about those beginning readers your 5-7-year-olds gobble up. This part of our collection can be hard to stay on top of, but Katie comes to the rescue with overviews of series, publishing information, and new releases. She often includes her personal review of the quality and the level of difficulty.
CanLit for Little Canadians: We love promoting Canadian authors and illustrators and this website is a goldmine. Helen Kubiw, a teacher librarian, maintains the site, creating fabulous booklists and making sure we’re all aware of upcoming publications by Canadian creators.
The Nonfiction Detectives: Run by a school librarian and youth service manager duo, this website is paramount for learning about exciting new information books. It’s the place where Lindsey learned about the new biography of her all time favourite poet that came out April 7, 2015!
Forever Young Adult: If you’ve ever found reading reviews to be boring, you must visit this site! This group of ladies review teen fiction with pizzazz and humor. Not only that, they also recap popular teen TV shows and movies so you can still be hooked into teen culture. Before you start reading, check out their explanation of their book report grading.
Literary Hoots: Emily is one of my favourite children’s librarian bloggers hands down. She posts very succinct and helpful reviews of picture books through YA, but in addition to that she also shares super cool reader’s advisory stuff like this super awesome flowchart for middle-graders. And if you read her blog regularly, you’ll get to see all her storytime and program ideas!
Sense and Sensibility and Stories: If Canadian children’s literature had celebs, we think Rob Bittner would own the red carpet! His blog offers short, honest and extremely succinct reviews of new picture books right up to teen novels, with a focus on both diverse and Canadian materials.
AudioFile: When we asked a colleague where-oh-where we could find reviews of children’s audiobooks she pointed us to AudioFile and we have never looked back. Using the “children” filter for new reviews you can browse what’s new and great or under Features check out AudioRex for children’s audiobook reviews by age category.
Digital Storytime: This is THE authoritative review site for picture books apps. Started by Carisa Kluver in 2010 because she couldn’t locate credible ebook reviews when deciding what to buy for her family Digital Storytime has grown to a robust site searchable by category, age, price and device.
We Need Diverse Books: This is a hugely important resource for ensuring that we continue to build truly diverse collections and is the flagship of the current movement in children’s literature. Check out the Where to Find Diverse Books section for awards and review sites and the Summer Reading Series (we hope there’s a Fall one!) for great readalike ideas for popular titles and series.
Do you have a favourite website for collection development ideas that we missed? We’d love to hear about it, give us a shout at email@example.com.
We can hardly believe it’s here already, but with leaves which look as if they’ve been set on fire and cool, crisp mornings Fall has most decidedly arrived. We’ve had a couple folks on Twitter ask for some new ideas for fall themed storytimes and we are more than happy to oblige! Here is a collection of our favourite songs and rhymes, books and more.
Let’s start with songs and rhymes. While you can check our our Fall or Autumn Playlist any old time, we wanted to take this opportunity to show off our new favourites!
This was first brought to our attention by the incredible Rebecca in her post about Pumpkins and Compost. Then imagine our delight when retired Children’s Librarian Jane Willis Johnston who wrote it gave us permission to record. And with that, we happily share what should be the pumpkin pie of your storytime!
Please allow us to step away from pumpkins for one quick minute. We learned this one from Anne at So Tomorrow and think it’s the perfect way to sing about rain, sun, leaves and snow or whatever the fall is throwing at you.
While not new, Lindsey and I were reminded of this little gem because of how often we get asked for songs and rhymes with sign language. Use the sign language or encourage the children to use their whole bodies with this action rhyme.
When it comes to book we’re not even going to attempt a list because Rebecca, Queen of Fall, has put together an absolutely phenomenal and comprehensive list. It’s even divided into sections like leaves, harvest, apples, pumpkins, animals in autumn and OH MY GOSH STOP READING AND GO THERE RIGHT NOW! (And when you’re there scroll down to learn how to make pumpkin stew in storytime!)
Finally, if you’re looking for craft or extension activities check out our Fall Storytime Pinterest board for these plus lots of books, songs and rhymes. Now it’s your turn: what are your favourite songs, rhymes and stories to share in the Fall? Leave us a note down below!